FMCSA Says Truckers Who “Fear for Their Safety” Amid Protests and Violence Can Do This
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is offering new guidance to truckers who reasonably “fear for their physical safety” while operating through areas experiencing social unrest.
FMCSA leaders have been wrestling with what the Agency can do to provide regulatory relief for truckers who encounter dangers and delays resulting from highway protests in cities across the nation.
Last week, Transportation Nation Network (TNN) broke the news that Agency leaders, including Acting Administrator Jim Mullen, were considering unprecedented action in response to growing calls among some trucking groups to immediately suspend Hours of Service (HOS) regulations for all commercial drivers.
Since widespread social unrest began in the wake of the death of George Floyd, we have seen truckers and big rigs targeted in cities such as Albany, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Louisville, KY; Minneapolis, MN; and St. Louis, MO, just to name a few.
In an exclusive statement to TNN last week, the Agency said, “FMCSA is concerned about any violence toward truckers and urges any drivers who are threatened or experience crimes committed against them to immediately contact the police.”
Further, the Agency said it was reviewing its “statutory authority” before taking any action on the matter.
TNN also reported the Agency was expected to issue at least some guidance on the matter this week.
On Thursday, the FMCSA did just that.
In an announcement, the Agency encouraged truckers who encounter highway protests and threats of violence to use the “emergency conditions exception” in the HOS regulations.
“After seeing incidents of threats against truckers, FMCSA wants drivers to know that they may use the emergency conditions exception in § 395.1(b) to complete a trip without violating the hours-of-service regulations if the trip was delayed due to a civil disturbance causing a driver to reasonably fear for their physical safety,” a statement said.
Specifically, the provision states, “In case of any emergency, a driver may complete his/her run without being in violation of the provisions of the regulations in this part, if such run reasonably could have been completed absent the emergency.”
TNN is working to obtain clarification from the Agency on the specific scenarios and additional drive/on-duty time provided for under this provision and new guidance.
Leaders of the United Transportation Association (UTA) have been working directly with Acting Administrator Mullen on this issue in recent days.
UTA has urged the Agency to suspend HOS to allow drivers the flexibility to reroute or stop the 14-hour clock, if needed, in order to preserve their own safety and without being financially penalized for doing so.
Lana Danko, UTA’s Director of Board Members, reacted to the announcement with surprise and disappointment.
“Given the dialogue we have had on this issue, I’m very disappointed that Mr. Mullen went public before having enough respect to inform us of the position they were going to take,” Danko said. “It does not keep us out of harm’s way and that was what we were asking for. It doesn’t help us until after the fact.”
WANT MORE? GET MORE!
However, Danko doesn’t place the bulk of the blame on Mullen, acknowledging the Agency could be constrained by its statutory authority.
Instead she aimed her most pointed criticism at members of the U.S. Congress.
“It’s really not Mr. Mullen’s fault. It’s our elected officials. They have failed our industry. They do not care about truck drivers,” she said.
Tell us what you think on TNN’s social media and members only pages.
Stay logged on to TransportationNation.com as we will be bringing you more reaction and additional information about this ongoing issue.
Photo courtesy of ARDOT